Savvy Money: Sign up to a gym contract as supple as you aim to be

If your resolution to fight the flab weakens, the only pounds you lose may be in health club bills

Did you make some New Year's resolutions this year? Many of us vow to eat more healthily, spend less and exercise more – at least for a few weeks! So if you're thinking of signing up with your local gym to improve your fitness, make sure you check the contract before you join.

Until fairly recently, gyms were notorious for having contracts that even the most supple of gymnasts would struggle to wriggle out of.

But a clampdown by the Office of Fair Trading has made contracts more user-friendly. However, you can still be caught out if you don't know what to look for.

Cooling-off period

Check that you will get a seven-day cooling-off period (and make sure this is in writing or in the contract). If there isn't one, don't sign up unless you are 100% happy with your decision.

Most privately-run gyms cost a minimum of £30 a month, and you could pay over £80 a month if you want to be able to use all the gyms in the network. If you change your mind within the seven days, you can cancel the contract without paying any fees, as long as you haven't used the gym.

Contract length

Gym contracts shouldn't be for more than 12 months or, if they are, you should be able to cancel the contract after the first 12 months with 30 days' notice. Most gyms offer rolling monthly contracts as an alternative (although they usually cost more).

If you sign up to a 12-month contract, you can generally cancel in the first year only if your circumstances change (loss of job, ill health etc), or if, for example, the gym increases its prices significantly.

Cancelling your contract

You will usually have to give 30 days' notice if you want to cancel your contract, whether it is for annual membership or on a rolling monthly basis.

But if you don't cancel your annual contract at the right time, you may find you pay an extra month's membership, as some gyms will cancel your membership from the first day of the month only after they get your cancellation notice.

You should always cancel a contract in writing (unless the gym asks you to cancel by a different method) and send the letter by recorded delivery.

If you're asked to cancel in person or over the phone, send an email or letter to confirm.

Change of circumstances

If you lose your job, move house, are ill, become pregnant or suffer severe financial hardship, you should be able to cancel a 12-month contract early. But check what you have to do.

For example, you will usually have to provide a doctor's note if you are ill or evidence that you have moved house, and most gyms will simply transfer your membership if one of their branches is within ten miles of your new home.

Closure of facilities

If the gym no longer offers the facilities you signed up for, there is no guarantee you will be able to cancel your membership. So if you are thinking of joining a gym because it does early-morning classes, for example, or because it has a crèche, it is worth asking if you can cancel your membership if these facilities are no longer offered (and get confirmation in writing).

I have looked at a couple of contracts that say the gym doesn't have to provide the services at a particular time and that you would be able to get out of your contract only if the gym you've signed up for closed for more than 30 days at a time for repairs or refurbishment.

Do you need to join a gym?

Of course, you may not need to join a private gym at all. Start by seeing what your local council offers. You may not get a gleaming reception area or fluffy towels, but it could be more budget-friendly. Otherwise, there are pay-as-you-go options such as PureGym, open 24/7, where you can buy a day pass or pay per month, or PayasUgym, which has about 1,500 gyms in its network, where you can buy day, bundled or monthly passes.

Verdict

Think carefully before signing up for a 12-month gym contract as many people stop going to the gym after a few months. Make sure you know when you can cancel, and check out non-contract alternatives.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

    £16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

    SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

    Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

    Day In a Page

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea